Word: euphemism

Pronunciation: YOO-fə-mi-zəm

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


“Euphemism” is a word that every writer should know because it’s a useful tool for any type of writing. Instances will occur where we need to avoid writing something too blunt or even offensive for the sake of our readers. That’s where this handy device comes in. Simply substitute your unwanted word or phrase with an indirect variant of the same meaning, and problem solved. Pretty useful, right?

A “euphemism” is a word or expression that serves as a replacement for a harsh one by being milder or indirect. The word arose in the late 16th century from the Greek noun euphēmismos, which can be traced back to the adjective euphēmos, meaning “uttering sound of good omen”. This word is made up of two roots: the adverb eu “well” and the noun phēmē “speaking”.

I’ve always liked the word “euphemism”, both for the way it sounds and for its use in writing. I often implement substitutions in my stories in the form of metaphors and symbolism, so this is a useful device for me. If you have a tendency to write about unpleasant ideas or vulgar themes that you don’t want unsettling your readers, the “euphemism” is definitely good for you to know about. With this helpful tool, you’ll be able to write stories that a wider audience can enjoy!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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